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Please critique my itinerary for trip to Italy next month

Please critique my itinerary for trip to Italy next month

Old Aug 1st, 2006, 01:06 AM
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Please critique my itinerary for trip to Italy next month

We are a couple from India heading for our first trip to Italy next month. As with every trip we have made in the past this forum has been the motherlode of info in helping us to draw up our travel plans. Our itinerary needs a critiquing in general, as well as answers to certain specific queries. We will not be hiring a car and will hence be relying entirely on public transport.

This is what I have so far :

September 3-September 7 : Rome

We are staying at a place called the H2000 Roma which is in the Trevi area. We will be doing the Art Seminar tour of the Vatican with Context. Have emailed for a Scavi tour as well. Am given to understand from one website that the Pope is going to be at Castel Gandolfo till the end of September but I don’t know how to confirm this so that I can decide whether to apply for tickets for the Wednesday Papal blessing. Also planning to do a day trip to Orvieto. These are the questions I have for this part of the trip :

1. Has anyone done the Vatican Gardens tour offered by the Vatican, is it worth doing ?
2. Should we also do a guided tour of the Forum/Colosseum/Palatine or do it on our own. Any recommendations ?
3. There are a couple of companies offering the open top hop on hop off bus routes. Any preferences ?
4. Does the Roma Pass/Archaeologica Card make sense ?
5. Is Orvieto doable on our own using the train, or should we get into one of the “day trips” offered ?
6. From Rome we go to Venice by train. We have an option of taking an overnight train leaving Rome at around 10pm and arriving Venice at around 5.30 am in the morning. We don’t mind killing a couple of hours at the train station before heading to our accommodation and most importantly this maximizes our time in both cities. Does this sound like a good idea, and if yes, should we book the overnight train tickets online on Trenitalia or wait till we arrive in Rome?

September 8-September 11 : Venice

We will be staying at Locanda Montin in the Dorsoduro Sestiere close to the Zattere stop. We will try and get bookings for the Secret Itinerary Tour as well as for St. Marks. As of now I only have the following two questions :

1. How hot will it be since our room is not air conditioned
2. Does it make sense to go for the Venice Carte Orange with transport and sights, or the 72 hour vaporetto pass

September 12-September 16 : Florence

We will be staying at the Relais Cavalcanti in the Uffizi Area. We have already booked online for the Uffizi and the Accademia, and have decided not to bother with the Vasari Corridor tour offered by some guides. We plan to spend a day visiting Perugia and Assisi and are again wondering if we should join a day trip or go independently.

September 16-September 23 : Tuscany

This is how our itinerary is shaping up for these days, using public transport :

September 16 : Evening train from Florence to Lucca. Overnight in Lucca at La Boheme

September 17 : Lucca. In the afternoon take the train to Pisa. Will book online for leaning tower. Return to Lucca and overnight at La Boheme.

September 18 : Take an early train back to Florence. Here is where we need help. We would like to do a wine tour of the Chianti region, just one good wine visit is fine, but would like to visit a couple of interesting villages in the countryside and we would like the tour to end mid afternoon for us at San Gimignano where we will be overnight. Any recommendations ? Overnight at Palazza al Torrione in San Gimignano.

September 19 : Bus to Poggibonsi and onward to Siena. Overnight at Residenza L’Epoca Palazzo Fani Mignelli for two nights.

September 21 : Bus from Siena to Montepulciano. May take a further bus to Pienza for a short trip time permitting. Overnight at La Terrazza in Montepulciano.

September 22 : Bus to Arezzo. After a couple of hours looking around, bus to Cortona. Overnight at San Luca.

September 23: Back to Rome (train from Arezzo, or is there one from Cortona?). Will be booking online for the Villa Borghese. Also any recommendations for a half day tour of the Appian Way ?

September 24 : nothing planned

September 25 : depart for home

I must apologise for the length of the post, but just wanted to include as much detail as possible. Also I do understand that I will not have the flexibility that happens from having your own wheels, especially in Tuscany, but I hope that with the above I will get some flavour of this beautiful region.

Look forward to your comments and help, as well as any other thoughts, recos, etc, its really appreciated. Thanks.
dyscover is offline  
Old Aug 1st, 2006, 08:32 AM
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I'm bringing this back to the top for you - maybe you'll get some responses...

I can't be of much help because we travel by car and have not had experience with tour groups. However I'll say that 5:30am is a great time to be in Venice (sans tourists) and especially if you go to the Campo de la Pescheria - the open market is being set up at that time.
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Old Aug 1st, 2006, 10:53 PM
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You seem to have a very good idea of what you want to see, and you have the luxury of three weeks for your visit. However, I count 9 hotel check-ins. That's a lot of moving around with luggage and time lost checking in and out of hotels.

Tuscany is not a huge geographic area. I suggest you base yourselves in one town (or perhaps two) with good transportation options and use a combination of trains and buses to see one or two towns a day, preferably on a route that makes a loop. You might not see every town on your list, but I think you'll have a more enjoyable time overall if you reduce the relocations.
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Old Aug 1st, 2006, 10:55 PM
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Hey Harvey, thks for that. I guess there's been an info overload, will try and put specific queries as individual posts instead. Strange though, I've always had super responses to posts previously. Guess everyone is out and about travelling.....
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Old Aug 2nd, 2006, 07:21 AM
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Rome:

==Should we also do a guided tour of the Forum/Colosseum/Palatine or do it on our own. Any recommendations?

It depends on your interest level. You can book a guide or you can join a tour at the Colosseum when you get there. I've done this a few times with varying results--some good guides, so less good, but adequate for many people. Usually a Forum tour and possibly a Palatine tour is included. Since the Forum has free entry, there are ususally a few free tours that you could join. Some people prefer to visit on their own with guidebook in hand. This decision really depends on your interest level.

==Is Orvieto doable on our own using the train, or should we get into one of the “day trips” offered?

I've done this on my own a number of times with great success. It works really well on your own since Orvieto is so accessible by train. Once you arrive in Orvieto, walk across the street to the funicular which tkes you to the top of the hill. Busses meet the funiculars and travel two routes. Take the bus to the Duomo, which is where the travel information center is. There you can get a map and plenty of info. I recommend buying the special visitor's ticket which includes entry to the underground tour, Etruscan museum, a scenic tower, the famous chapel in the Duomo, bus and funicular, and local discounts.

Venice:

==How hot will it be since our room is not air conditioned?
It could go either way at that time of year--it depends on your personal need for a/c.

==Does it make sense to go for the Venice Carte Orange with transport and sights, or the 72 hour vaporetto pass?
Many people admit that they don't find value with the Carte Orange or Blu. Pricewise, if you plan to ride a boat five times during your visit, the pass is worthwhile. Since you are staying at Locanda Montin, I thnk you will for sure ride to and from the train and hotel. Then I recommend riding the Grand Canal twice--once during the day and once at night. Sounds like the pass would be good for you.

Florence:
==We plan to spend a day visiting Perugia and Assisi and are again wondering if we should join a day trip or go independently.
Certainly you can do this on your own but connections may be easier with a tour. You can get a direct rain to Perugia. Then you have to get up the hill into town (bus/taxi). Then back to the train for Assisi which is only a short train ride away, but again to get up to the town you need to take a bus or taxi. This actually seems like a far trip to take as a daytrip from Florence--it's half way to Rome. Some of your Tuscany stops (Cortona) are closer to Florence than Perugia.

Tuscany
==We would like to do a wine tour of the Chianti region, just one good wine visit is fine, but would like to visit a couple of interesting villages in the countryside and we would like the tour to end mid afternoon for us at San Gimignano where we will be overnight. Any recommendations ?
Luca at hillsandroads.com might be the answer for you. He could pick you up in Lucca, drive you around Chianti, visit vineyard, and drop you in San Gim.

I would probably not change hotels so many times in Tuscany. Rather I would have picked one or two locations and visited you other spots from there.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2006, 12:41 AM
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Oh Ellenem, I can't thank you enough for all that wonderful info, just what I needed.

Get your point regarding staying put in one place in Tuscany and doing day trips to others, its just that every guidebook, forum and review says that these palces are truly magical in the evenings once the day trippers have left, and hence we decided to overnight in them.

Thanks again.

Dimple
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